This past weekend I decided to go out to a couple of bars and restaurants to watch some football. It’s an activity that millions of Americans take part in, and it’s a great way to socialize. However, after ordering a burger and a few beers that are reasonably priced, you have one last charge that costs you 20% minimum…and if you don’t pay that or more, you’re an elitist jerk who doesn’t understand the horror that waitresses go through every day. Yup, it’s the tip at the end…and I hate the practice of tipping.
Having an incentive for your work is nothing new in the world. There are plenty of jobs where nearly your entire salary is based on commissions. Everyone hates telemarketers right? They call during dinner and are pushy and make you feel dumb if you don’t purchase their services. No one feels bad saying no to them, hanging up on them or flat out being rude to them. When you hang up on them, or say no, you are hurting their chances of making a living for their family. Yet that’s the exact same argument that’s given for why we HAVE TO TIP OUR WAITERS. That’s the argument I hear consistently from people who are pro tipping. “They deal with horrible people all day and make only $2 an hour. It’s a terrible job and if you go out to eat you need to take care of them.” Why is it that this is the only profession that we feel that we have to take care of the people serving us?
There are a lot of theories behind that, some people have said that tip stands for “to insure promptness.” However if that was the case, wouldn’t we tip at the beginning of the meal to make sure the waiter did a good job? Then what if he didn’t? Would we demand our tip back? How did this whole thing get started anyway? Through some research, it appears that the practice started here in America in the 19th century when wealthy American businessmen would return from Europe. The practice of tipping was established there at the time, and the wealthy decided it would do well here in America. However it was resisted at first, people in America considered it bribery and would have no part of it. However, when restaurant owners found a way to not pay their employees, and pass those costs down to the customer directly, they jumped on it. They lobbied until the practice became standard. Strangely enough, in most European countries today, tipping is frowned upon.
Whenever I’ve gone out to eat with people who have worked in the food service industry, they have always tipped generously. Whenever I ask them the reason for this, their response is almost always, “These servers get paid next to nothing for their hourly wage. They live completely off of tips and they deserve it.” While I completely understand their reasoning, I am constantly confused why the food service industry gets away with paying their employees next to nothing, and other industries are regulated so their employees can’t receive a tip of any sort. I’ve been told that servers have to deal with rude customers, messy children, people who treat them like dirt, and an overall crappy job. Well I can say that after my days as a bank teller for both a credit union and large bank, I can see a lot of similarities. People are consistently rude, forceful, and downright hostile (ever heard of a bank robbery?) The employees work long hours and in many cases are on their feet the entire time (many bank branches feel that if the tellers are sitting it is not as professional.) They have to deal with children running around the building and rarely get any bonuses or commissions of value. But in this industry it’s not customary to tip.
I feel that the solution is simple, let’s make the restaurants pay their employees for once. I can’t even count the number of times that I’ve gone out to a restaurant and just ordered water to drink…and then had the server completely lose interest in helping me. Apparently if I order water instead of a soda or alcohol, it means I’m a cheapskate and therefore will not tip well. I would rather have waiters and waitresses work their jobs for a wage, and if I feel their service was exemplary, then I’d leave them a little something extra. I don’t feel like I’m giving someone incentive to work hard for me if they know everyone is going to give them a 20% tip right off the bat. It’s very likely that if this ever changes, the price of my food at a restaurant would go up in order to offset the “lost wages” the restaurants will have to face. I’m perfectly willing to pay an extra 20% to know that my server is getting paid a fair wage for a fair job. I can completely identify with the difficulty of a waiter’s job, it’s not easy by any means, but why am I the bad guy for wanting their employer to pay them a decent wage instead of me?